It’s Tick Season – What do you need to know?

Tick season is well and truly here. We have seen a BIG rise in tick cases over the past week. Many vet clinics, including our own, have been inundated with very sick pets due to paralysis tick poisoning. We cannot stress the importance of tick preventative medication. Most of the over-the-counter products both repels and kills ticks once they attach on to your pet, preventing harmful symptoms. Check out some common Q & A’s below for all you need to know about tick-related health care.

I don’t take my dog on walks in the bush. Do I still need to use tick prevention?

Just like other creepy-crawlies, ticks are able to move around. They attach themselves on to stray cats, birds, possums, rats, and other animals, and can stay hooked for days. Once they have had their blood-meal, they then drop off and can lay more eggs! This can mean they can drop in your backyard, on pathways, in our public parks and other suburban areas. It comes down to the breeding load of that year. If conditions have been hot and moist, the tick load will be far greater. This is what we have seen this year, particularly in the past few weeks – a lot of ticks attaching on to pets from just being in their backyards, therefore we highly suggest keeping up to date with prevention even if they don’t go exploring through wild woods.

Here’s the local suburb map of the recent tick and snake activity we’ve seen at Fletcher Vet. As you can see, there are many spots that aren’t bushland.

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My dog has never had a tick before. Are some breeds more likely to get bitten?

Many pets can go their whole lives without suffering from a tick bite (just like humans). This can come down to that seasonal breeding-load we mentioned, as well as how close they are to the tick’s habitat, and of course luck. There isn’t one breed that is more susceptible, however ticks LOVE moist and densely-packed areas to nestle in. That’s why you will often find them nuzzled in ear folds, between the toes, hiding in thick fur or under collars. It is important to keep your pet’s long coat short in hotter months to reduce this risk. Prevention medication, however, is the best form of protection.

Why is this a bad season for ticks?

Hot and wet – a tick’s favourite playground. The bureau of meteorology have announced a very high chance of a La Nina forming in the coming months. This means wetter than average conditions for this time of year. Ticks come out in spring when the weather heats up but it’s not yet too dry, so we’re predicting a much more lengthier season.

Photo credit: CSIRO 2021

Should I just use prevention in spring and summer?

We recommend all year round. Ticks don’t actually conform to a set life cycle “calendar” throughout the year. Ticks from all three stages of their life cycle, and their eggs, can be present in your garden right across the year. The largest numbers of juvenile ticks will be there in autumn, with the middle phase, called “nymphs”, peaking in winter and the adult numbers peaking through spring and summer. The life cycle of a tick averages 12 to 14 months and their eggs can take up to 6 months to hatch depending on conditions.

How do I check my pet for ticks?

Finger walking! Most ticks will be on the first one-third of your pet’s body (but not always), so check the neck and around the head thoroughly. You want to reach your pet’s skin, not just fur. Part the fur and use the tips of your fingers to walk up your pet’s coat in sections. Do this after each walk with your dog, and each day with your cat, if they go outdoors. It’s a lovely bonding experience to share with them ^_^

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—> Check out our Instagram Reel video where Nurse Gaby walks you through a tick search! <— (special thanks to Phoenix from Dog Rescue Newcastle for being a star belly-scratch model!)

What services do Fletcher Vet offer for tick-related healthcare?

We are very passionate about offering everything you need to keep your pet safe from ticks. We have:

  • Topical and oral preventative treatments, ranging from one-month duration all the way up to six-monthly. These come in a range of affordable options. The one most suitable for your pet will differ depending on them as an individual.
  • Passionate and knowledgeable staff for the most up-to-date advice. Our nurses and vets are dedicated to your pet’s safety and know their medical history. We take all this into account to help you choose the best prevention treatment.
  • Reminder services so you don’t miss a dose! We can set you up with SMS, phone-call, email, or post reminders, and also have Instagram and Facebook for informative and fun healthcare posts.
  • State-of-the-art facilities for emergency and hospital care. Our new purpose-built clinic is set up to help your pet in their time of need. We always have anti-tick serum on hand for emergency treatment, as well as oxygen therapy and intensive-care equipment. Follow us on our social media pages to see a walk-through of our new clinic soon!

Do you have any other tick-related questions? Let us know! Email at reception@fletchervet.com.au, call on (02) 49556670, or use our contact form here.

Meet the Fletcher Vet team

We enjoy a reputation as one of Newcastle’s best vet practices. Dr Paul Robin and his team have been caring for local pets (and their families) since 1998.

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